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Perry's Index to the Aesopica

Fables exist in many versions; here is one version in English:


People consider someone with real life experience to be more reliable than a soothsayer, but they cannot say why: my little fable will be the first to provide an explanation.
There was a farmer who had a flock of sheep, and those sheep gave birth to lambs with human heads. Alarmed by this omen the farmer hurried off, deeply upset, to consult the soothsayers. One soothsayer told him that the birth of lambs with human heads indicated a matter of life and death for him as the 'head' of the household, and a sacrifice would be required to ward off the danger. Another soothsayer insisted that this was instead a sign that the man's wife had been unfaithful to him, and that she had passed off other men's sons as his own; this evil omen could only be averted by an even greater sacrifice. To make a long story short, the soothsayers argued about their interpretations with one another, heightening the man's anxiety with more and more causes for alarm. Aesop also happened to be there, that old man who was nobody's fool: there was no way that nature could play tricks on him! 'If you want to expiate this omen,' said Aesop, 'I suggest you supply your shepherds with wives!'

Source: Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura Gibbs. Oxford University Press (World's Classics): Oxford, 2002.
NOTE: New cover, with new ISBN, published in 2008; contents of book unchanged.

Perry 495: Gibbs (Oxford) 317 [English]
Perry 495: Phaedrus 3.3 [Latin]

You can find a compilation of Perry's index to the Aesopica in the gigantic appendix to his edition of Babrius and Phaedrus for the Loeb Classical Library (Harvard University Press: Cambridge, 1965). This book is an absolute must for anyone interested in the Aesopic fable tradition. Invaluable.